We took my nephews to the County Fair and we had a GREAT time. In addition to the rides, bull riding show, and carnie food, there were the exhibits. This year, part of the fun was finding out if either of them had won any of the contests that they had entered. In fact, there were several winning entries including the sculptural pottery contest! Coleman won first place for his penguin in a hat (Mr. Penguin); and, Daniel won Honorable Mention for his butterfly.
It was a lot of fun watching them look for their entries among the many other pieces and seeing their response to winning ribbons. I think this year’s fair was the most fun yet.
Julie and I recently entered the Coyote glaze contest. I was so excited because I was confident that we had several good ideas which we had executed well. We submitted 8 entries (the maximum permitted) and then waited. I checked the website and face book page compulsively but when the winners were posted – we were not among them. I was blindsided because I was so sure that several of our entries were contenders. But, after looking at the winners, our aesthetic is quite different.
In contests, you subject your work to some one else’s values. And, as an adult, I recognize that those values are arbitrary. In fact, pottery has taught me that there is no accounting for taste. I can’t tell you how many times some one has picked up a pot that I thought was awful and raved about it.
Here is the thing about contests… you have to be confident, you have to be brave, and you have to have perspective. It takes confidence in your own work to be brave enough to allow some one else to judge it. However, if you are really satisfied with what you are doing, perhaps there isn’t a lot of bravery required – then the confidence carries you. What I am learning is if I am pleased with my work, true affirmation is the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I get from my well-thrown pot. And, although it would have been fun to win, I am content with the direction in which our pottery is headed.